Yes, that’s it.
The #1 action leaders must take if they want to grow is to STOP.
It sounds counter intuitive, I know, but hear me out.
We don’t listen enough. We say we do, but we don’t. We’re thinking about the next time we have to deliver to a client or wondering when that answer will come through that we’ve been waiting for. We’re distracted by emails and text messages and satisfaction surveys. Usually, we’re thinking about what we want to say to make our next point.
What if we really stopped and listened? Without an agenda. Without a need to be right or smart or whatever.
What if we listened with curiosity and humility? With fresh ears? With a desire to connect instead of worrying about making a point.
Leaders who want to grow must first stop and listen to themselves.
Leaders must know what drives them. They must know who they are, what they stand for, and what’s important to them. This is more than simply a values exercise.
To spend time away, in a quiet place, thinking, considering and feeling what’s important (yes, I used the F word) is crucial to effective leadership. In our hectic, hurried lives it’s easy to avoid these things because they make us uncomfortable.
The discomfort comes when we become aware of our thoughts and feelings. Our shame and fear of inadequacy (tell the truth, we all have them) cause us to feel vulnerable and we’re aware of not being in control. We long for connection—after all we humans were created for relationship—yet we’re afraid of rejection.
If leadership is relationship, then this is obviously no way to become a strong leader.
Part of the change process that we utilize in working with the horses is peace and quiet. This takes time. And this is where creativity occurs. This is where you can find the answers to the problems that require thinking that is relaxed and flows from deep within. This is where you find your WHY.
The work is quiet and deep and can sometimes feel like a lot of nothing in the moment. However, I have yet to have someone work with the horses and NOT have an insight into something important they needed to do differently. Sometimes they realize they need to BE a different person. It’s easy for us to lose our way in this life of hectic schedules and greater demands on our time and become a ‘human doing’ instead of a human being.
Time with the horses gives you permission to slow down and notice what really IS important. Are you living your values or someone else’s? Are you playing small? What does that cost you? What does it cost your community and the world?
If you want to grow as a leader, your #1 action step is to STOP.
When you stop, listen to that still small voice and be sure your goals and values are aligned properly. Know what you stand for and be willing to confidently and unapologetically BE the leader you know are.
This confidence will enable you to listen to others with genuine curiosity and humility because you won’t feel threatened by their ideas.
When they feel heard and understood, their trust in you and your leadership grows.
All these powerful things happen because you were willing to STOP in order to grow.